All sixteen-year-old Izzy Crawford wants is to feel like she really belongs somewhere. Her father, a marine, died in Iraq six years ago, and Izzy’s moved to a new town nearly every year since, far from the help of her extended family in North Carolina and Puerto Rico. When Izzy’s hardworking mom moves their small family to Virginia, all her dreams start clicking into place. She likes her new school—even if Izzy is careful to keep her scholarship-student status hidden from her well-to-do classmates and her new athletic and popular boyfriend. And best of all: Izzy’s family has been selected by Habitat for Humanity to build and move into a brand-new house. Izzy is this close to the community and permanence she’s been searching for, until all the secret pieces of her life begin to collide.
I’m pleased to say this was nothing like I expected! I liked Izzy a lot. She struggled in this book: with grief over her dad, her struggles with his family, her identity, and accepting and embracing who she is. Honestly, I expected a mean-girls scenario, and there was a tiny touch of that, but not much.
Izzy friendship with Roz was well-done, and how the two grew and changed in the novel made this a story well worth reading. It’s not a typical YA/romance, although there is romance, it’s not the focus of the story. There were a few loose ends left when the story was over, so it felt a bit unresolved, but this was a solid, heartwarming read.
Maria Padian was born in New York City. How to Build a Heart is her newest novel.
(Galley courtesy of Algonquin Young Readers in exchange for an honest review.)